Ongoing Violence in Sudan “for the moment” Not Religious, Not Civil: Apostolic Nuncio

Archbishop Muñoz Cárdaba, Apostolic Nuncio in Sudan | COPE

The ongoing violent conflict in Sudan that broke out on April 15 is, “for the moment”, neither on the basis of religion nor is it a civil war, the representative of the Holy Father in the Northeastern African nation has said. 

In a Tuesday, June 27 interview with ACI Stampa, ACI Africa’s sister news agency in Italian, Archbishop Luís Miguel Muñoz Cárdaba appealed for prayers for the people trapped in the conflict between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary force under General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and army units of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) that are loyal to the head of Sudan's transitional governing Sovereign Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

“The serious military conflict dramatically experiencing Sudan today is not a religious war, for the moment, not even a civil war,” Archbishop Muñoz said.

He added, “It is a conflict between two powerful military groups, and in between is the civilian population who suffer dramatically as a result.”

“It is true that some churches were looted, including the Catholic cathedral of Khartoum, but the churches were not the target of the attacks,” he said, and added, “Rather, the looting extends into all the actions of the conflict, so much so that even embassies have been looted, including the nunciature, universities and shops, mosques, and private residences. It's not a religious issue or a religious war.”


On June 27, the United Nations (UN) indicated that the conflict in Sudan was taking an ethnic turn in Darfur as fighting rages on, Africa News reported.  

The U.S. adjourned peace talks that it was facilitating alongside Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, with Molly Phee, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, saying on June 22 that the format of the peace talks was not progressing as expected, Reuters reported.

In the June 27 interview with ACI Stampa, Archbishop Muñoz expressed pessimism about possible reconciliation between the two warring factions in the Sudan conflict.

"This is not a civil war between parties; the country has no ideological division regarding the conflict. Two military groups are at odds, and the people are caught between them, suffering the consequences,” he reiterated, and lamented, “I believe that the more the war progresses, the more people experiencing poverty who are suffering multiply.”

Archbishop Muñoz underscored the need to work towards resolving the crisis, saying, “All energies must be combined to achieve peace and to be able to rebuild the country in peace.”

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The Spanish-born Vatican diplomat who was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Sudan in March 2020 continued, “I believe that if this war remains, this strong sense of the communion of people against the conflict and in favor of peace and necessary progress in such a poor country is also created.”

Holy See, he said, “closely follows all these attempts at peace and supports them. Lately, it seems that various initiatives are emerging within the civilian population of Sudan in an embryonic way to make the voice of the country's civilian majority heard in this armed conflict.”

Speaking about the situation of the Catholic Church in Sudan, a predominantly Muslim nation, Archbishop Muñoz said, “The political, social and cultural presence of our Catholics in Sudan is of little importance, despite previous work in the field, especially in education.”

He said that the Vatican is working toward ensuring that “the religious freedom recognized by the Sudanese Constitution does not remain just a freedom of worship, but is true religious freedom for the Catholic Church and all the other religious minorities present in Sudan.” 

Reflecting on how the Church can help the people of Sudan, the Apostolic Nuncio who has since taken up residence in Eritrea highlighted ways of support.


“I believe that the Church can help the country in three ways. The first, the most important to me as a Christian, is a constant prayer for peace. The second is a diplomatic commitment that supports the ceasefire initiatives for humanitarian reasons and supports a real process of dialogue and negotiations to achieve definitive and lasting peace,” he said.

The third way the Church can support Sudan, the 57-year-old Vatican diplomat said, “is economical and welfare aid to rebuild the country once the war is over. At that point, a lot of help will be needed, not only material but also human.”

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